2 weeks ago it was -11 outside!!!! Even if you are Minnesota native through and through that is COLD! While the cold has some great benefits, like pretty snow and getting to walk on frozen lakes, it also has some downsides. This time of the year when it is very cold outside, is the time when most people are wasting the most energy and electricity in their homes. It makes sense, we need to heat our homes, need to keep our lights turned on for longer, and want to cook hotter things. But, this isn’t a free pass to stop being eco-friendly and reducing waste as much as possible.
Here are some tips from earthday.org about how we can all reduce our carbon footprint and still keep toasty warm during the winter months…
1.) Layer up. This might be the easiest and most obvious way to save energy during the winter months. Wear long underwear, undershirts, and other base layers under your clothing and bundle up in sweaters and scarves and you can turn down the thermostat that much more. Also bonus tip…you can also help end plastic pollution by choosing clothing made of natural fibers, instead of synthetic fibers, which pollute our environment with microplastics when washed.
2.) Seal your leaks. A common energy waste during the winter months is leaking air inside and outside your home. In order to avoid any air leaks, you should inspect all areas where two different materials meet. These would include any kind of exterior corners, electrical outlets, door and window frames, etc. These holes can be filled in with weather strips and expanding foam installation. Go on a hunt through your house and see what you find!
3.) Turn down your water heater. Many homes get their heat through a water heater, which can often be costly and a waste of energy. One way to avoid wasting a lot of energy through your heating system is by turning down the water setting. Heating water can account for 18% of your home’s total consumed energy. A quick and easy way to lower your energy usage is to turn down the water temperature setting to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit (from the typical setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Do you know what setting your water heater is at?
4.) Use better lightbulbs. As the temperatures dip during winter, the amount of daylight and light also decreases. This can result in needing more light bulbs in and around the house for light. Since regular lightbulbs use a lot of energy and are hard to dispose of in an environmentally-friendly way, it’s best to switch to LED lightbulbs or CFL lightbulbs. These lightbulbs can save you 25-80% of energy use, are mercury-free, and last longer than regular lightbulbs. They even make cool ones that will turn on with your Alexa!
5.) Skip the street salt. Although road salt is used by many city and state governments to take care of icy and snowy roads and walkways, it also has negative effects on aquatic ecosystems. To clear your own path, choose a safer alternative, such as cheese brine, pickle juice, and potato juice. Here at Camp Foley we use sand instead of salt.
I hope you got some good ideas about how you can make a positive impact on the planet during these cold winter months. Stay warm everyone!